Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

1568 - 1815 AD

Moderators: MAGNA, Frizzenspark

User avatar
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:16 am

Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby MAGNA » Wed May 15, 2013 10:27 am

1/1200 scale ships. Something different.

The first time we tried these we weren't sure but our erstwhile (don't know what that means but it
always sounds good) ex Royal Australian Navy member (Ray) had hand made some ships and also had
some rules kicking along.

Away we went. It's frustrating due to unforseen wind changes which mean you just don't have the
control that you do in land based games. It's frustrating as you tend to get too close to your own ships
in an effort to close in strength on the enemy. This leads to collisions, damage, and a mess as you try
to sort things while under fire. It's frustrating as your ships can only turn so far with the wind and even
less into it. In other words you plan ahead as best you can but you have to review the plan almost all
of the time. Did I mention it's frustrating ?

After all that it is also really good fun. Things can get tense when working out whether a ship is valid
target for that crucial shot near the end of the game or whether two ships are going to collide. The
frustrations are generally of your own making though and can be lessened by expecting change
which is a valid part of simulation gaming. Being played on fake water I suppose it really is a good
time to go with the flow (Yeah - I know).

The best part is firing (isn't it always ?). One 6 sided per broadside. Most ships in these games are
third rates or 74 gun ships. These have four broadsides so four dice for firing. The ships go
bigger to five and six broadsides (six is a first rate).

The shots are modified according to range and some special attributes.

Long range rigging and hull shots need a six to hit. Medium you get to 5 or 6. Close range is where
things get vicious. French / Spanish ships roll at 4, 5, or 6 to hit with British needing 3, 4, 5, or 6.
The British ships get a better number due to their historical rate of fire being double due to better
training / experience. We couldn't really go all the way with that as it would mean twice the number
of dice per shot for the British so it was toned down to the three plus.

More ships have been made made using resin, cocktail sticks, and plastic coke bottles (the lumpy bits
at the top for the sails). I'll get around to some better ones as I go along.

Along with Rays really good ships (they have rigging and flags etc) we have enough for five or six
ships per player. This is usually enough as you have to write each ships orders each turn. Direction
and speed is logged. After the orders are written the movement for both sides is carried out. You
may have guessed from this that collisions are likely when everyone does this. Why do it this way ?

1. To help simulate the smoke and signal problems in a close battle environment. many ships were
on their own after a battle started as they just couldn't see any signals anymore. This happened
most of the time and is understandable when Admirals usually got their ships in first and would
promptly start losing masts - really hard to raise signal flags when the frikkin' pole is gone.

2. The vagaries of the ships themselves as well as the influence of the weather conditions on the

3. It's really funny when someone else does it.

This game is a simple meeting engagement with allied French and Spanish ships against British. The
British have 12 ships and the Allies have 15. This is balanced by the British firepower and higher
morale. handsome ships get to reroll ones.

The British also had a bit of a secret weapon in the form of HMS Dreadnought. This ship was at one
time commanded by Admiral Collingwood who commanded the the second line at Trafalgar in the
Royal Sovereign.

Dreadnought was a rotten mover as in really slow but Collingwood had specifically trained his crew
to an unmatched level of gunnery. British ships generally fired at twice the rate of any other but
Dreadnought fired at a remarkable three times the rate of others. Slow moving but a hell of a bite.
I decided to give this beast nine dice to reflect the firepower. The poor French/ Spanish side didn't
know this - at least not at the start. Proper historical optioning would have given a massive
eighteen dice - game over before you start.

A ship is reduced by one broadside dice for each four hull points lost. A third rate starts with 16
hull points with a first rate having 24. Easy to see that a ship with 18 dice would be a bit of a game
My get up and go never got here in the first place

User avatar
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:16 am

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby MAGNA » Wed May 15, 2013 11:09 am

We enter the game from stage left after about the first fifteen or more moves. I didn't have the camera
for week one but most of it was spent getting into position. Early moves are done by doing three moves
at a time to get things going which is ok in the early stages as it's more a case of follow the leader.

Some bright spark made a nice little island in the middle of the board and with each side coming in
from opposite corners the damn thing got in the way. Nice looking though.

After the island obstacle was sidestepped and the wind had turned a couple of times hostilities ensued
with both sides taking pot shots at each others rigging. The black and white French squadron of five
ships headed due west (known as the black and white squadron due to them all being black and white
- what did you expect - some stupid comment probably). The Spanish squadron of five ships was
basically following them with the second French squadron being between the Spanish and the island.

The British came on from the North west and headed for the island before cutting to starboard and
heading South westish. This put the lead British ship in a bad spot as it headed toward the black and
whites. The black and whites could fire about three ships at the British one and it took a bit of a
beating to it's rigging before turning away at a reduced speed and almost getting in the way of the
following British squadrons. This was part of the Hibernia (1st rate) squadron and was a 3rd rate.
The next British ship ran along the French line which now had three Spanish ships joining it. The
second British third rate did some damage to the Spanish but was harrassed by about five others in
turn and eventually sank.

The second French squadron had a nice 2nd rate - same games as the the thirds but more hull to
kill so tougher. This ship ended up being the closest target for the Hibernia (six dice) and the
Dreadnought which had finally closed up to be just behind giving a nasty lot of firepower (15 dice
between the two). The unfortunate French 2nd rate suffered badly over a few turns as it took a lot
of hits from the big British ships and also copped fire from two more third rates which had also got
to firing positions. The suffering got bad enough for the French 2 to turn into a submarine. One
ship gone from each side.

Both sides had around three more ships which had taken a ot of hull damage with a few more having
slowed badly due to rigging damage.


Here are the two fleets with A being Allied French / Spanish And B being British.
My get up and go never got here in the first place

User avatar
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:16 am

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby MAGNA » Wed May 15, 2013 11:29 am

By this stage ships were getting closely packed as they tried to get into firing positions. Even by turn
twenty or so only just over half the ships on each side had actually been able to fire.

This is normal in these games as you don't want to have too many ships in a line at the back due to
possible wind changes leaving them too far from the action. Sometimes when one of your ships has
taken a pounding you end up wishing it would sink as it would then be out of the way.

front view.JPG

A view from the West. The ships closest to the bottom of the picture are from the black and white
squadron. Two are further back. British ships are starting to close with these and the three Spanish
ships just to the left of the three black and whites. As a result of this positioning the Spanish ships
have taken most of the fire and are in a lot worse shape than the black and whites.

Rule 701 - If you have an ally always get them between you and the enemy.


This picture shows the approximate positions of the two ships already sunk. To the left and down a
bit from the position of the sunk French ship you might be able to see the two bigger British vessels
that caused the damage, lead by the Hibernia.

The Dreadnought's unexpected firepower threw the Allied commanders a bit as they were aiming to
get their rear squadrons as a group to hit the British rear as they came across or turned away. This
was not unexpected by the British commanders and the sinking of the French 2nd rate in such a
quick fashion has caused the Allied units to turn away.

There is now an opportunity for the British to use Nelson's tactic of cutting the enemy line and
destroying a section of it while the other tried to turn to get back into the fight. The British command
have not been backward in coming forward in this game as witnessed in the latest move by a British
3rd rate (Majestic or Mars) turning toward the French black and whites and risking the devastation of
a bow rake (1.5 damage - stern rake is double). This was one of those moves that is either bold or
completely stupid depending on the outcome. There is something about fortune favouring the
lottery ticket buyer or something but anyway it worked this time with the British ship now being seen
as bold rather than stupid as it only took one hull point of damage and is now poised to.... well..
to have the living anchor chain blown out of it next turn. The again, maybe not.

Next week will tell....
My get up and go never got here in the first place

User avatar
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:16 am

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby MAGNA » Sun May 26, 2013 10:15 am

This game was finished early as not all combatants were going to be available for
a few weeks. It didn't matter too much as new rule changes were being implemented
and for one of our players it was only the second go at this.

Things had started to get interesting too as several ships were badly damaged and
some had lost most and in one case all rigging.

I had to call this one a draw as nothing is certain in any game as we all know.

The Dreadnought had been having an ongoing fight with the Spanish 1st rate and
both were losing broadside values (dice) as their hulls suffered.

Two of the British 3rd rates were pretty well sunk with one finally going down.

A couple of the opposing Spanish ships were in similar condition with one having only
one hull point left which means it was going down next turn.

The French black and whites had done well by going forward and the lead ship was
actually at a point where it would have turn back up to continue to get a target.

The wind had changed direction several times during the game - it is rolled for every
three moves when in the Med and the wind strength had dropped so everyone was
sailing along in breezes.

By the end stage the British were down to ten ships and the allies were almost down
to the same.


This pic shows the whole gaggle with precision drawn marks showing condition;

S - bad sail damage. The Defiant - the yellow and black British ship ended up losing
all rigging and was turning side on to the wind. The allied ships wanted to get
to medium range and fire to cause a morale check and or rake the ship but they
ran out of time.

\ - This denotes ships getting a hammering, namely dreadnought on the left and the
Spanish 1st rate (Trinidad?) on the right.

? - can't remember but I think this Spanish 3rd rate was in bad nick.

X - basically cactus. The british ship closest with the arrow pointing down is about to
emulate a U-Boat without the ability to resurface.

So there you have it. Critical hits had an effect during this one as did placement and
tactics. From previous experience the long line is no good as the ships at the back
tend to be out of the action for too long to have an impact. This explains the ships
sailing side by side but in this case it was bad too as the outside ships couldn't get a
shot while the inside ships tended to two or even three ships firing at them.

All good fun and you have to like the island in the background.

We'll sink more next time.
My get up and go never got here in the first place

User avatar
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 1364
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:41 pm
Location: Central Ohio

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby Frizzenspark » Mon May 27, 2013 12:34 pm

Hmmmm.... I'm sure many within the forum have considered,some "Age of Sail" gaming... Hand-made ships might just make it practical.....


I bought the very first copy of :
SAILPOWER: Fun Scale Combat in the Age of Sail
A 15MM 1/100th scale Age of Sail game intended for use with large scale miniatures to recreate ship-on-ship combat. Play the part of a naval captain, a pirate, or a privateer and master your ship to win control of the high seas!

The designer was local and recently dropped off his shipment at the LGS... I happened to glance through it, found it worthy, had the cash.... Why Not? The shop-owner called the designer immediately after ringing up the sale.... I met the designer at the Origins Game fair, where he autographed it stating that it was the first "purchased" copy...
"Why piddle about making porridge with artillery and then send men to drown themselves in it for a hundred yards of No Man's land? Tanks mean advances of miles at a time, not yards.".
Maj-Gen Percy Hobart (1885-1957)79th Armoured Division

Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:53 am

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby Avon_Ulysses » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:02 am

I played in this game, as commander of the Spanish squadron.
I lead the attack & suffered the worst losses but, by the time we called it quits our side had maneuverer into a favourable position.
We now had all but one of our 14 ships in the firing line.
The opposition was still in 2 lines with some of their best ships masked by those in front.
We were already winning the attrition warfare & we had more ships to loose (15 vs 12).
We had also 'crossed the T' & their turning to avoid the worst effects was why they had only 1/2 their fleet firing.
The opposition basically conceded defeat as the leading player was about to lose what was left of his fleet.
Is we had of continued they could, with luck caused us some damage. But the odds were already too far tipped in our favour.

Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 2756
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:17 am
Location: Leamington Spa. U.K

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby Frank » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:13 pm

Sounds a good fun game. I have to say that I really like the potential for complete catastrophy that a simultanious movement order game provides.

Avon, welcome to the forum.
"Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check.But that is not what I have found, it is the small everyday acts of normal folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
Gandalf the Grey

User avatar
Lucky Luke
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:20 pm
Location: Rome, Italy

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby Lucky Luke » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:50 pm

Frank wrote:Sounds a good fun game. I have to say that I really like the potential for complete catastrophy that a simultanious movement order game provides.

As a Wooden ships (Avalon Hill) player I remember the 'highway-car-crash' pile of ships when the line was too tight(no empty hex between ships) and the first collided with something and stopped.... :lol:

Avon, welcome !!!!!

Let us know something more about your wargaming/boardgaming interests.....


"I'd rather be lucky than good any day."

User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 7148
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:22 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA

Re: Napoleonic ship game - Encounter in the Med

Postby Whiterook » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:22 pm

I have to admit this looks fasscination to me. I'd seen examples being played at Origins Game Expo several years ago and thought it simply amazing. I've never seen anyone with a set up locally, though...pity.
If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

Return to “Pike & Shot”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest